Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Solar, Wind Power

SOLAR 2006: The Latest News from Denver (Update 3)

Energy runs high as observations from the sessions demonstrate.

Energy Efficiency and Renewables Go Hand-In-Hand By Rebecca Cantwell Renewable energy and energy efficiency — whose advocates sometimes show some sibling rivalry — need to join together to solve the nation’s energy crisis and the world’s global warming dilemma. “There is no one silver bullet,” said Bill Prindle of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy at a SOLAR 2006 workshop Monday. “We need a serious new look at ways to tap efficiencies and renewables jointly.” Energy efficiency — which he referred to as “steady Eddy” — holds more promise to contribute in the next 5 to 10 years, while the potential for renewables grows over time. They are complementary in other ways: renewables tend to be more capital intensive and efficiency tends to be more labor intensive. “”If you combine, you can make more political constituents happy,” Prindle said. A number of states are starting to combine the two in one clean energy portfolio for which standards can be set. PvH Blog Entry for SOLAR 2006 (July 12, 2006) By Phil von Hake Hello Again, All … WOW, what a day at the SOLAR 2006 Conference! Let me see if I can remember the torrent of information, ideas, and inspiration that was thrown at me all day & night. The morning started off with an excellent plenary session calling for continued action on climate change. World-famous architect Ed Mazria announced his “Architecture 2030” initiative (www.architecture2030.org), calling for all buildings to be built between now and 2030 to use continually decreasing levels of fossil fuels, and then be carbon-neutral after 2030. Princeton Physics Professor Robert Socolow used his very workable “Stabilization Wedges” theory (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/305/5686/968?ijkey=K6cRPbiYRFwus&keytype=ref&siteid=sci) to tackle climate change with existing technologies, and thus “turn a single heroic challenge into a limited set of monumental tasks.” And Earth Day Founder Denis Hayes still wowed ’em all with a stirring call to action, despite the fact that he had to speak from his own handwritten notes that even he could barely decipher(!). Three talks, three standing ovations: not a bad way to start the day … I wanted to make it to an afternoon session on plug-in hybrid cars, but had to be elsewhere at that time. For what it’s worth, I heard that session was packed to the rafters, so you’ll be certain to hear about it through other circles. I did attend an excellent session on “Energy and Water” … a topic that I think receives far too little attention, especially in the arid Rocky Mountain region. This session also drew the attention of a reporter from the New York Times, so look for something on this topic to appear there “soon.” I crow-barred myself into the session on “Alternative Future Scenarios for Tackling Climate Change.” I missed Professor Socolow’s talk, but felt fortunate to have already heard him in the morning. Mike Campbell of General Atomics made his pitch for various types of nuclear energy — not what you’d expect to hear at a renewable energy conference, but it did generate some spirited discussion. NYU Physics Professor Marty Hoffert blew a lot of minds in the room (mine included) with “Future Technologies” like carbon sequestration, solar mirrors in space, wireless electricity transmission, etc. He also displayed his issues with the “science” of economics, but they were at least as entertaining as they were illuminating. The room should’ve been bigger, and the session and Q&A should’ve been allowed to go MUCH longer, so look for discussions like these to continue at future ASES events. Finally, I blew off the “evening in the Rockies” mixer to attend an absolutely riveting evening plenary on “Emerging Transportation.” A world-class panel gave their views on transportation issues and their links to climate change, future energy supplies, and (finally!) national security. Former CIA Director James Woolsey called the problems we’re creating with using so much oil “malignant (with what it’s doing to our environment) and malevolent (‘this is the first war we’ve ever been in where we’re paying for both sides’).” Professor Andrew Frank of UC-Davis showed us how & why he pretty much invented the plug-in hybrid car concept, and how to make it a more mainstream application. Roger Duncan of Austin (TX) Energy “plugged” his Plug-in Partners program — look for a petition to be coming your way to get YOUR town signed up & ready for the inevitable arrival of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Paul MacCready — “the Father of Human-Powered Flight” — wowed us with his ideas for making human- and solar-powered transportation more practical & widespread. And inventor Jerry Roane ran his “Tri Track” individual monorail-type transportation application by us. A bit too “out there” for me, but fascinating nonetheless. OK, I’m going home to recharge my brain(!). SOLAR 2006 wraps up Thursday with discussions on Peak Oil, Colorado’s Amendment 37 (the first-ever state renewable standard that was pushed & passed by voters), and final calls to action. Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow! PvH